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Thundering Herd rolls past Rio Grande

AP and staff reports

Huntington, W.

Thursday, December 16, 1999

Huntington, W.Va. – Tamar Slay had the hot-hand, so the Marshall Thundering Herd let him play pyromaniac.

Slay scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half as Marshall cruised to its sixth straight win to start the season, 107-63 over Rio Grande on Wednesday night.

"I’ve been working on my game real hard and it’s paying off for me," Slay said. "If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. That’s what we work on every day."

Slay, who made 11-of-14 field goals, scored nine of Marshall’s first 11 points of the second half to extend a 26-point halftime lead to 65-35 with 15:11 left. He sat out the rest of the game as Marshall went to its reserves.

"Tamar had the hot hand. I was really proud of him," Herd coach Greg White said. "But all five of our guards were in double figures, and when you consider J. R. was not in there, our inside people played well."

J. R. Vanhoose, the 6-foot-10 sophomore center who is the Herd’s leading scorer and rebounder, sat out the game with an injury but is expected to play Saturday against Georgia.

Marshall jumped out to a 7-0 lead and was never headed. The lead was 54-28 at the half.

The Thundering Herd shot 59 percent from the floor and held Rio Grande, an NAIA school, to 36 percent.

Travis Young added 18 points for Marshall. Cornelius Jackson had 12 points and 13 assists, Deon Dobbs had 15 points and Joda Burgess 14.

Burgess was 4-of-4 from 3-point range and the Herd was 11-of-20 from behind the arc for 55 percent. The Redmen were just 8-of-29 from long range for 28 percent.

Justin Blackstone led Rio Grande (8-3) with 17 points and five rebounds. Freshman Joey James of River Valley scored 13 points, all in the second half, and Jeremy May added 10 points off the bench.

"They were 13th in the nation in the NAIA poll and coach (White) warned us about them all week," said Jackson. "They average 95 points a game which says a lot about them, but we really got after them."

Marshall’s 6-0 record matches that of the 1994-95 Thundering Herd team.

Rio Grande was crippled by 27 turnovers.

The Marshall-Georgia game is a 3 p.m. tip-off at home Saturday. Georgia is coached by Jim Harrick who served as the head coach at UCLA when White was an assistant.

"This is a big-time game and we need a big crowd to support us and show everyone what Marshall basketball is all about," White said.

Rio Grande has lost two straight and will now play Transylvania Tuesday in the Heidelberg Tournament.